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The Black Museum - Single Episodes

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The Black Museum - Single Episodes


Opening in 1875, the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard is the oldest museum in the world purely for recording crime. The name "Black Museum" was coined in 1877 by a reporter from "The Observer", a London newspaper, although the museum is still referred to as the Crime Museum. It is this museum that inspired The Black Museum radio series, produced in London by Harry Alan Towers.

From Jay Hickerson's "The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide To All Circulating Shows", the earliest US broadcast date was January 1, 1952. Thirty nine shows, from the full syndication of fifty two shows, aired over Mutual stations from January 1, 1952 through June 24, 1952 and September 30, 1952 through December 30, 1952.

This may be the earliest broadcast of the series worldwide. It was later broadcast over Radio Luxembourg starting May 7, 1953. Radio Luxembourg broadcast sponsored programs at night to England (the BBC was state-owned and had no commercials). The shows were sponsored by Dreft and Mirro (cleaning products).

The series continued to be offered in syndication and was heard on AFRTS broadcasts and in the US on NPR stations through the 1960's, 70's and 80's. Some shows were broadcast by the BBC in England in 1994.

This murder mystery series was based on true life cases from Scotland Yard's files. Each episode was based on an item or items of evidence in the museum.

Orsen Welles hosted and narrated the shows. Mr. Welles opened each show slightly differently but followed a standard format. For example, the show, "The Bathtub", open as follows:

"This is Orson Welles speaking from London." (Big Ben starts himing in the background). "The Black Museum, repository of death... Here, in this grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard, is a warehouse of homocide, where everyday objects, a piece of wire, a chemist's flask, a silver shilling, all are touched by murder." (dramatic music)

Following the opening, Mr. Welles would introduce the museum's item or items of evidence that was central to the case, leading into the dramatization. He also provided narration during the show and ended each show with his characteristic closing from the days of his Mercury Theater of the Air, remaining "obediently yours".

Harry Alan Towers produced the series from scripts written by Ira Marion. Music was composed and conducted by Sidney Torch.

The museum was not open to the general public. It's purpose was then, and still is, for police training, although it did receive a considerable number of famous people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is currently used as a lecture theater for the police and like bodies in various subjects of Criminology. But, thanks to Mr. Towers and Mr. Welles, we can still get a glimpse of what secrets are housed in The Black Museum.

From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.



This is a production of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group located at Old Time Radio Researchers Website and the Old Time Radio Researchers Group.

It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.

If you are interested in preserving old time radio, you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.

This is the Single Episode Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.

Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to naming requirements.

Relax, listen, and enjoy!

OTRR Definitions:

OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.

OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.


Reviewer: albie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 27, 2016
Subject: The Black Museum - Single Episodes
It is a good show,except for one thing,that music that never seems to end.

Just found this,
The Black Museum Bill Waddell Documentary 1988
Reviewer: P51 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 1, 2015
Subject: Program radio
This radio was just as good today as it was at the time of being on the air. I enjoyed it years ago and even more, I love the whole idea of old radio programs as as ever Orsen Wells was wonderful.
Reviewer: maxodyne - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 5, 2013
Subject: The Black Museum for Young and Old
This is such a joy to listen to these original episodes. Really, it's like the first time all over again, as the last time I heard these I was a young boy with a home-built AM radio staying up too late on school nights. That was over 40 years ago. I also listened back then to the Lives of Harry Lime, which I noticed is also here on the archives.
Reviewer: jonfrum - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 5, 2009
Subject: Classic series
When I first encountered this series on an OTR web site, the sound was poor and I didn't listen to the full show. My mistake. The episodes are not necessarily mysteries - often more just crime stories gradually laid out. It's Orson Welles' role as the narrator that makes the show. It's like going to your local coffee shop to listen to some music and having Bob Dylan doing an acoustic set. These aren't convoluted whodunits, but they are classic "theatre of the mind" shows.
Reviewer: luckyace120 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 10, 2007
Subject: Really Amazing
This is one of my favorites. Welles acts as a catalyst for the stories. The story lines, acting, and writing are very good, and Welles just adds to the fun.
Reviewer: ronobvious - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 15, 2006
Subject: Black Museum
The English capacity for strange, bizarre crimes
has produced plots far more original than
any concocted by mere writer's invention. Coupled
with Orson Welles narration, a really enjoyable
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